KARACHI, April 29: With her one leg still in plaster, and the forehead down to the eyes covered in a black chaddar, 30-year-old Shahnaz lies in a hospital bed on Wednesday evening, and relates how she was brutally tortured by her husband and in-laws.
Having endured an abusive and violent husband and in-laws for 13 long years, Shahnaz sobs as she speaks to a group of journalists from bed No 2 of the Civil Hospital’s emergency department.
Her tale is not much different from that of countless women who fall victim to domestic violence everyday.
Married at the age of 17 to a sweeper in Essa Nagri, Shahnaz could never enjoy marital bliss. She said her husband, Amjad, started showing violent behaviour soon after the birth of their first child.
“He would come home drunk and beat me on one pretext or another. At times, I got fed up with this inhuman treatment and left for my parents’ in Gujranwala. But the stay there was always for a short period because I thought I had to live in that home, no matter how much I had to suffer at the hands of my husband and in-laws, for the sake of my children and myself,” she said.
Amjad had become more aggressive during the past one year, she said, alleging that the reason for this was her refusal to become part of his family’s ‘immoral business’.
Three days ago, she said, her brother-in-law, husband and the uncle of her husband, took her to their home in PIB Colony and brutally tortured her.
“They hit me with hammers and then shaved my head and eyebrows.
“At that time, there was no other person present at home. Later, my relatives came to my rescue when I returned home and they brought me to hospital,” she said.
Like herself, Shahnaz’s five children, aged from 2 to 13 years, also remain deprived of education.
Giving details of Shahnaz’s condition, Dr Asif Farooqui, head of the casualty department of the Civil Hospital Karachi, said she had suffered haemothrosis (knee injury) for which she had been treated and would be discharged soon.
However, the mental trauma she had suffered was graver than her physical injury and it would take a long time to heal, he said.
Talking to Dawn, CHK’s medico-legal officer Dr Nisar Ali Shah stressed the need for setting up a rehabilitation centre at the hospital, specifically for the treatment of victims of mental and physical abuse.
“There is a dire need for such a centre at the hospital. Victims of rape and torture need to be treated in isolation under the guidance of psychiatrists. The condition of such people may greatly improve if provided with a peaceful environment,” he said.